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Former Boeing Quality Manager and Whistleblower, John Barnett, Found Dead Amid Safety Concerns

Former Boeing Quality Manager and Whistleblower, John Bernett, Found Dead Amid Safety Concerns
Boeing 787 Dreamliners are built at the aviation company’s North Charleston, South Carolina, assembly plant on May 30, 2023. The plant is located on the grounds of the joint-use Charleston Air Force Base and Charleston International Airport. (Photo by Juliette MICHEL / AFP) (Photo by JULIETTE MICHEL/AFP via Getty Images)

John Barnett, a former quality manager at Boeing who gained prominence as a whistleblower, was found dead on Saturday, officials at South Carolina have said.

According to officials in Charleston, South Carolina, Barnett’s death appeared to be the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, as reported by The Guardian UK.

The Charleston police department has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Barnett’s death, emphasizing the importance of conducting a thorough inquiry based on facts and evidence.

John Barnett
John Barnett

John Barnett, 62, retired from Boeing in 2017 after nearly three decades of service. His whistleblowing efforts gained attention when he raised concerns about safety lapses in Boeing’s production line, specifically regarding clusters of metal slivers discovered hanging over flight control wiring on several aircraft. Despite urging his superiors to address the issue, Barnett was reassigned to another department within Boeing’s plant in North Charleston.

In 2019, Barnett made his concerns public when he was featured as one of several whistleblowers in a New York Times article highlighting safety lapses at Boeing’s North Charleston facility. His courageous actions drew attention to the company’s practices and sparked discussions about the importance of transparency and accountability in the aerospace industry.

Boeing expressed condolences over Barnett’s passing, stating, “We are saddened by Mr. Barnett’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.” The company’s acknowledgment of Barnett’s contributions underscores the significance of his efforts in advocating for safety and accountability within Boeing.

Boeing has been grappling with significant safety challenges following the crashes of two 737 Max 8 jets in 2018 and 2019, resulting in the tragic loss of 346 lives. More recently, a brand-new 737 Max 9 jet experienced an emergency landing in January after a cabin panel blowout during an Alaska Airlines flight. Regulators subsequently grounded 171 Max 9 aircraft for inspection, shedding light on ongoing safety concerns within Boeing’s production line.

Boeing’s CEO, Dave Calhoun, has acknowledged the company’s need to regain the confidence of officials and airlines in the wake of these safety incidents. However, concerns persist regarding Boeing’s transparency and cooperation with regulators. Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, revealed that Boeing had declined to provide crucial information to investigators regarding the recent incident involving the 737 Max 9 door plug.

Homendy emphasized the importance of obtaining comprehensive documentation and cooperation from Boeing to ensure safety and quality assurance standards are upheld. Boeing later stated that it had provided the requested information to investigators, reaffirming its commitment to safety and regulatory compliance.

As investigations into Barnett’s death and Boeing’s safety practices continue, the aviation industry remains vigilant in addressing safety concerns and promoting transparency and accountability. Barnett’s legacy serves as a reminder of the critical role whistleblowers play in advocating for safety and integrity within the aerospace sector, underscoring the need for ongoing efforts to prioritize safety and uphold industry standards.

This Article is Fact-Checked. See Policy.
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